Friday 27 January 2023

Tiding by Siân Collins BLOG TOUR #Tiding @sian_collins @honno @RandomTTours #BookReview


December 1962. 

Eleanor O'Dowd, a middle-aged piano teacher, is found stabbed and bludgeoned to death. 

As the Great Freeze of 1963 takes hold, local vicar's daughter Daphne Morgan finds herself forced to navigate the confusing currents of the adult world, where she must face up to her own crimes and what she knows about the murder. 

A novel about memory and the power of the imagination...

Tiding by Siân Collins was published on 12 January 2023 by Honno. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour.

Tiding is an absolute dream of a novel, it ticked all of my boxes. Set in the 1960s, with a hint of murder mystery and a beguiling coming-of-age theme and beautifully written, it is a joy to read and discover these characters. 

It's 1963 in a small Welsh town and ten-year-old Daphne and her gang of friends have been up to mischief. Daphne is the youngest daughter of the local Vicar and knows, deep down, that taking an old skull from its resting place was a bad thing to do. Despite her efforts to return the skull, she is unable to and as more bad and strange things happen in the town, she and her friends become convinced that they've cursed the whole place. 

Meanwhile, Daphne's piano teacher; Eleanor O'Dowd - an incomer to the area, is found dead. Brutally stabbed. A high profile police officer arrives from London, to try to solve the crime, and it's not long before his questioning and suspicions begin to worry the local people. 

Siân Collins' writing is pitch perfect. Her descriptions of the Welsh landscape, the rain, the snow, the frozen ground and the isolation of the townsfolk are sublime. Whilst her characterisation is wonderful, it is the surrounding countryside, and the effects of nature that really capture the imagination.

This is a novel that contains so much, despite its relatively short length. The way that this small community comes together, protecting each other, yet not averse to a little gossip of their own. The freedom enjoyed by the children in the 1960s, combined with the harshness of one of the school teachers. The relationships between the Vicar's wife and the woman who cleans for her; the kindness of the Vicar and the love of two elderly men for a nephew who often feels tortured. 

There are some heart wrenching scenes, there are paragraphs of great joy, there are smiles to be had. It's a novel that I savoured so much and I look forward to reading more from this author. 

Siân Collins was born in Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire. 

An Edinburgh graduate, she taught Anglo Saxon and Medieval Literature in South Africa, worked as an assistant editor on The Lancet, and ran English and Drama departments in several well-known London secondary schools. 
She returned to Carmarthenshire to teach, write, and relish life in the beautiful Tywi Valley. 

Her debut novel, Unleaving, was published in 2019

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